Nothing days

Posted on

Today is a Bank holiday.  A perfect day for doing nothing.  A play day.  A day for dens in the lounge and movies with popcorn. A day when we do nothing much at all but lots of fun little things.  

I love days like today and it’s nice for family too.  To spend time together but not necessarily on day trips just to spend time doing not much. 


We started with some Montossori inspired sensory sorting play.  Ok so basically coloured marble stones and tubs with spoons.  We also have a movie on and in our house that only means one thing.
Which also means a rendition of Let it go from my littlest. Meanwhile I managed to lay out a pile of materials for another special bear.
I love being able to transform piles like this into special memory bears.
So what have you got planned for days like bank holidays? Wonder what we will do with the rest of the day? Nothing very much at all.
Sometimes nothing days can be quite busy. Just filled with lots of nothing much that’s productive just fun. No housework, no shopping just fun. Lego and stickers and craft things. Maybe some cake making and movies. Nothing much.
Do I feel guilty? No ! Because sometimes it’s good to have purposefully idle time. Time to just play and have fun and relax. We spend so much time rushing about that doing nothing is something we often forget to do. So treat yourself. Have a nothing day and enjoy it guilt free.


Holidays and Hobbies

Posted on

We are off on holiday and I am taking my sewing. 


To some people that might seem odd but to me it makes perfect sense to bring along my favourite thing to do in the evening while we sit about in the caravan.  The family will watch movies and I will occupy the kitchen table and plan and cut and sew. 


I found when I was packing that I loved the pile of laundry of holiday clothes that I made.  These are things we wear which I made.  So why stop just because we aren’t at home.  I am sure I wouldn’t take my sewing machine abroad but we are driving and have room in the boot so along with the beach things will go my project box too.



Fabric Love

Posted on

In my house the sound of the postman knocking is like magic.  It probably means there is something that won’t go through the letter box and it’s more than likely to be raw material for a bear or fabric. 


Even my littlest gets as excited as me which is lovely.  In a very simple way her excitement adds to mine as it’s just joyful to see her laughing at all the parcels. Even before we have started to open them she is jumping about and shouting for me to get scissors to “ope” the packages. 
Once open I like to take pictures of the fabrics to keep in my fabric photo folder. This time though my little minx insisted on perching atop the pile making us both giggle.

There was a lovely collection in this delivery and something from Amazon too. I ordered a copy of #TheTudorTailor a book about creating Tudor Style Costumes.
I can’t wait to start reading up about fabric choices and courtly dresses. Who wants to dress up as a peasant? He he.
We put away the fabric eventually but not until there had been some fabric love. It’s so nice to see that my littlest loves the fabric choices I make. Of course a lot of what I make will end up in her wardrobe lol. I do love this picture. It epitomises how we feel in this house about fabric and crafting. I love that I am able to teach my children to love being creative.
We picked our favourite. Which was given the official “cute” hug lol. It was this lovely aqua blue with butterflies all over.


Sewing catch up

Posted on

Feels like ages since my last post so thought I would have a little catch up.  I’m never not busy sewing just so busy being mum and sewing and having a life I don’t always get to blog too. 
So what have I been up to? I adapted my very favourite baby top style and created my own pattern for a top with a slightly frilly sleeve so I could use this adorable Little Matryoshka fabric.


I just love this style.  It was my favourite baby toddler pattern and I think my version is just as good.  I put a tie on the back of the neck instead of button or poppers just for a feature detail. 
The idea for the tie at the back of the neck came from this Daisy Kingdom pattern dress.


I just adore butterflies so love this fabric so much. I bought this while at the Sewing and Craft exhibition at the NEC.
I also managed a bit of upcycling and turned an old shirt of my Dad’s into a lovely summer dress.


I used the button detail down the back.  Whilst the weather is cold it looks lovely with a shirt underneath and leggings.


My little model isn’t always easy to photograph as she’s always on the move but now and then you get the perfect shot.  I just love this picture of her in the butterfly dress.  


Now we just need summer sunshiny ! Come on British weather totally deserves a great bout of sun doesn’t it.


Snow White dress

Posted on

Having successfully made the Princess Sofia dress I decided my next project would be Snow White.  I looked for photographs of Snow White so I could see what her dress looked like in terms of colours etc and ordered some satin fabric from eBay in the perfect colours.
Snow White dress fabric coloursWhile I am working on this project I am also looking at fabric for an Elsa dress from Frozen. I posted a query on a page on facebook that I use and had lots of replies. People are so helpful.

It’s nice to know you are part of a crafting community.
I looked for a pattern to help with the snow white dress and though I had the bridesmaids dress pattern I found an actual snow white so bought it. It’s Simplicity 2563.
Since this had the piping detail and correct shape for bodice it was the best bet rather than an adaptation. The big change I made was the sleeves. The pattern has these teardrop shaped appliqué red shapes on it but I had found a couple of online tutorials for proper pleated sleeves like in old period costumes.
pleated sleeves for Snow White costume
This is what I did here in this link to pleated sleeves. I ended up with these lovely sleeves I was really happy with the result. Much better than appliqué.
pleated sleeves for Snow White costume
I spent ages choosing colours and once again changed the colour scheme slightly from the pattern. When I looked at pictures of Snow White the sleeves were more royal blue than pale blue and the bodice was darker. The bodice was more like a navy. The sleeves had a yellow band. So my colours were navy bodice. Royal blue and red sleeves with yellow band and yellow skirt.
The end result was lovely. Really bright and beautiful. It’s an age 4 as it was made for a friend’s granddaughter. I hope she loves it. Snow White dress costume tutorial
Now I just have to make a smaller one for my little girl.

Summer dress in floral blues

Posted on

Simplicity 1949. Summer dress

My next dressmaking project is a summer dress in blue florals. I am deciding whether to do age 3 as my littlest is already super tall and age 3 might last longer. 

Simplicity 1949 by TOTZ

I plan to use Simplicity 1949.  I have used it before to make this red floral top.

The red floral fabric was bought from Calico Lane.  I used the square neck with the red and used red lining fabric to create a nice contrast. This time I am planning on using the round neck.  I am also going to add a contrast band at the bottom and contrast pockets. 


I have picked two blue florals that I think will suit this hotchpotch style well.  Still deciding which to use for the main body. 
It’s a lovely pattern and I was looking for something close to what I wanted. I had seen a summer dress on Pinterest that I loved. Seriously addicted to Pinterest. Just love being able to pin pictures of things I have found that I like. It doesn’t matter if they are just for inspiration either.

I am sure it won’t be long before I am able to create my own patterns. I am getting better at mixing and matching bits I like from different patterns and using my own techniques sometimes rather than instruction on the patterns especially if I think I can finish something better. Ohhh get me the expert in the making. Who would have thought eh. I think it goes to show that it’s just practice. “A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step”. My first pattern was bought and made almost a year ago and I have learnt so much since then.
Watch this space.


Disney Princess Sofia Inspired Dress

Posted on

How to make your own Disney Princess Sophia Dress.

1920486_1457211484511436_611266417_n My littlest and I were invited to a 4th Birthday party.  The theme was fancy dress.  Specifically Disney Princess fancy dress.  Our favourite Disney Princess is Princess Sofia.  We love this little Princess and I really hope Disney make a movie to go with the TV show. Princess Sofia wears a gorgeous purple dress and this was the dress I decided my littlest should wear to the party.

Since dressmaking is my thing it made sense to make the dress. It ticks lots of boxes.

  1. I couldn’t find a Sofia dress online for less than £40.
  2. I knew I could buy the fabric relatively cheaply.
  3. I already had a pattern I thought I could adapt.
  4. I get to practice sewing in satin a complete first for me.

So the first thing was to buy fabric. I bought polyester satin which is reasonable price and purchased 2.5m purple and 1m white. I also bought matching purple thread and purple ribbon. I had a zipper in my box and already had 3m of netting plus some white lining fabric.

I used Simplicity 1507. It has a lovely full skirt with 2 layers plus a lovely sleeve just perfect.
The next decision I made was to separate the net underlining layers and make a separate skip/petticoat that could be worn under the dress. I felt this would make sewing the waist easier and mean we could always do away with one layer if need be.

I actually followed a great tutorial I found online for inspiration and used a vest plus lining and net. Here is the finished product and a link to a separate tutorial. This is the tutorial I used although I did adapt it slightly SewFearless children’s tulle petticoat

Now to sew the Disney Princess Sofia dress.
I put the top together first and just followed the pattern.

I will note that this was my first time working with satin so I spent a whole evening searching for tips as when I first started the fabric was puckering. I found some great clips on YouTube and spent my Friday evening watching various clips. My life is pretty rock and roll these days he he. Ok don’t laugh I actually enjoy it so armed with wine and snacks I eventually realised what I needed was the right needle. I use Universal needles usually but satin requires sharp needles so a quick trip to my local supply store the following morning meant I was all set to go. The finished top also included some rick rack for a design. This should really have been added before the top was assembled so that’s a note to remember. Oh here is one of the best YouTube links I found working with satin.

Next was the skirt. I mulled over making a circle skirt but decided on following the pattern which uses a tube gathered at the top. Before I did anything I needed to create the petals. I decided 4 was enough for a little girl though I know Princess Sofia actual dress has 6. I sewed all the pieces together apart from the back seam. I then folded the fabric in half then half again with another fold so that I could cut a semi circle that would give me a complete petal at the front, one on each side and one at the back.

I zig zagged all the pieces before sewing them and didn’t french seam though I would in future as I found that despite zig zagging satin frays more than I was happy with.
The next step was the appliqué design. I first traced my design onto baking paper. Then taping it to my kitchen window I traced the pattern onto bondiweb. I bought mine on ebay and it’s double sided iron on webbing perfect for application of applique designs like the bottom of Princess Sofia dress.

Before I moved onto finishing the skirt Pr10155572_1472252703007314_7184052084309138778_nincess sofia dress has these peplums or side pieces. I freehand drew two loops on dressmakers paper though baking or tracing paper would work too. I zig zagged the edges and added rick rack trim then gathered the tops and pinned then basted these to the dress top.

Next I simply followed the pattern and after sewing the back seams of both skirt layers I gathered the tops then pinned them to the dress top and machined the whole thing together. I was excited to turn the whole thing right side out and see the final product. I was so pleased. It looked amazing.

It was something of a labour of love and I learnt lots about working with satin but immensely pleased with the finished garment.

It swishes wonderfully and of course my littlest insisted on Princess Sofia music to dance too.
The party was great and my princess was super excited to be wearing her Princess Sofia dress.

Birthday dress

Posted on

Simplicity pattern 2320

Since dressmaking is my thing these days I decided that my baby girl should be treated to a special dress for her birthday. 
I chose a pattern for this dress that I have not made before. Simplicity 2320. It’s one of their project runway patterns. The idea is that you have a basic pattern with parts that can be chosen to suit like different styles of sleeves and of course the embellishments are your choice too. I like the little cap sleeves and I picked a gorgeous elephant print that I bought online from Cotton Kisses.
The first part of any new pattern is time consuming but once it’s been done the pattern can be used again really easily. I learnt early on that to preserve the original pattern I should copy the size I want onto new paper and cut that out. I use proper dressmaking paper as it’s see through so markings can be seen doesn’t tear too easily when pinning and you can trace the original pattern easily through it.
Next step is to get pinning and cutting. I was careful with this fabric to get a column of flowers down the centre of the front piece.
It’s not an easy pattern this one and must confess the square bodice piece had me muttering under my breath as I struggled to pin it to the front dress piece but at last things started to come together. It’s a satisfying process. I am sure anyone who makes and creates finds the same. Seeing things come together gives a sense of accomplishment which I’ve read somewhere is really good for us.
I like to do french seams on my kids clothes. This is where the seam is enclosed. It makes a nice neat seam that feels nicer inside and less danger of fraying.
The finished dress is great. I am chuffed to bits and my little model loved it.

“You’re a stay-at-home mom? What do you DO all day?”

Posted on

I found this article circulating facebook and love love it so wanted to share it.

My kidsI get this a lot. The people that ask me when I am going back to work or why I am not at work and not so long ago one so called friend who said “gosh you always seem to be doing stuff but then I remembered you don’t work do you !!” Faced with this I wanted a way to articulate really succinctly that all the “stuff” I was doing like trips to the Library, parks, castles, play mornings, church events not to mention weekend activities were all in the course of bringing up my kids and teaching them about the world, making them happy as well as me not to mention also being their chief cook, bottle washer etc etc in other words all round go to girl.

There are not many minutes in my day when my kids are awake when I am not being asked something, talked to about something, being requested to feed, clothe and generally look after somebody. And if you thought the biblical plague of locusts consuming the landscape was terrible to behold you have not seen the amount of food just a couple of kids can consume. I seem to be forever shopping for food or actually cooking food for them. In fact I make trips to the supermarket at least twice a week and no that isn’t bad planning it’s just simply the logistics of how much milk, bread and fresh fruit gets consumed in my house.

Of course I do have moments in the day that aren’t exactly mastermind brain taxing at my age I am pretty goInventing activities to keep a toddler busyod at colouring inside the lines without much effort. I quite like inventing and finding activities to keep my kids busy and interested and help their growth and development. I also get the odd few minutes when the kids are busy with the current activity to actually boil the kettle. I don’t often get to drink that hot drink until its been microwaved back to warmth at least twice over the subsequent hour but well I do get to stop occasionally. I must admit I like feeding the ducks and I admit that following a toddler around the play park may not in the grand scale of things seem as important as my old paid job once was or any one of a variety of other paid jobs. BUT …..

As Matt Walsh points out so well in the following article when I stopped doing my paid job I was soon replaced. Any one in a paid job no matter how stressful, busy, important, taxing etc etc that job is ultimately is just doing a job that if they weren’t there to do someone else would do. On the other hand if I and every other mother on the planet stopped being mum’s not just between 9 to 5 but all day what would happen to the world. Let me tell you now that whilst I believe my toddler is very advanced she cannot change her own nappy and make her own meals. My son is super smart but he can’t grocery shop or iron his own school uniform.

Yes I and all the other mum’s out there could put our kids in nursery. Are there enough jobs then for all those mums wanting work? Oh wait they would need more nursery nurses. Oh wait then I could get paid for doing what I do now for free. Plus I would get breaks, lunch, a union, set hours etc etc.

When my kids are both in school I like my Mum before me will find something to fulfill my desire to be productive and fill those extra hours. It may not be my old job because travelling and staying away from home is impracticable with two small children (which is why I haven’t been able to go easily back to my career) and of course I need to ideally work during school hours only but I will do something because doing absolutely nothing would drive me mad anyway. Not that I am ever not doing anything. I have plenty of things that not only save us money but also keep me busy. I bake & cook most of what we eat from scratch and hand make much of what we wear. PhotoGrid_1380021493110

I of course don’t want to devalue the amazing effort done by those mum’s that do juggle work & being mum. Not all of them do it because of their career’s. Some do it for purely financial reasons and I am sure would love nothing better while their kids aren’t at school to ‘just’ be mum’s. They do a terrific job and still manage to do a wonderful job of being mum’s & work.

It’s an age old question – that choice between work & being mum. In a lot of cases dedicating yourself to a career with long hours, pressures etc is exactly what a woman needs & wants but I am not sure you can do that and also dedicate those hours to being mum. Countless women have tried and discovered that something has to give, be it help with kids or less hours devoted to work. Some women have forged new careers building businesses that enable them to do both, perhaps working from home or creating an environment where they can take their kids to work. They are lucky. Lots of mum’s simply have to cope with work & juggling all the tasks of being mum & my hat off to them. But please don’t assume that mothers that don’t juggle that role with a job are less busy & the argument of who is the busiest is one that Matt Walsh steers his discussion away from because that is a thankless argument.

wpid-PhotoGrid_1391213863055.jpgI personally one day hope to turn my creativity like my TOTZ Sox, Sewing and Bears into a nice little cottage business that helps to keep us afloat. Eventually with more time I have lots of ideas to try & make that a successful business by adding other projects. Meanwhile I also plan to finish my degree through my Open University studies. But right now I am mostly just mum and please don’t tell me that what I do when I am home for my kids and looking after my kids isn’t important or productive. Because I cannot think of a more important and productive job I could do.

Here’s Matt Walsh response.

“You’re a stay-at-home mom? What do you DO all day?”

Matt Walsh is tired of people telling him how lucky his wife is to be a stay-at-home mom and to not be “working”. This is his message to those people:

It’s happened twice in a week, and they were both women. Anyone ought to have more class than this, but women — especially women — should damn well know better.

Last week, I was at the pharmacy and a friendly lady approached me.

“Matt! How are those little ones doing?”

“Great! They’re doing very well, thanks for asking.”

“Good to hear. How ’bout your wife? Is she back at work yet?”

“Well she’s working hard at home, taking care of the kids. But she’s not going back into the workforce, if that’s what you mean.”

“Oh fun! That must be nice!”

“Fun? It’s a lot of hard work. Rewarding, yes. Fun? Not always.”

This one wasn’t in-your-face. It was only quietly presumptuous and subversively condescending.

The next incident occurred today at the coffee shop. It started in similar fashion; a friendly exchange about how things are coming along with the babies. The conversation quickly derailed when the woman hit me with this:

“So is your wife staying at home permanently?”

“Permanently? Well, for the foreseeable future she will be raising the kids full time, yes.”

“Yeah, mine is 14 now. But I’ve had a career the whole time as well. I can’t imagine being a stay at home mom. I would get so antsy. [Giggles] What does she DO all day?”

“Oh, just absolutely everything. What do you do all day?”

“…Me? Ha! I WORK!”

“My wife never stops working. Meanwhile, it’s the middle of the afternoon and we’re both at a coffee shop. I’m sure my wife would love to have time to sit down and drink a coffee. It’s nice to get a break, isn’t it?”

The conversation ended less amicably than it began.

Look, I don’t cast aspersions on women who work outside of the home. I understand that many of them are forced into it because they are single mothers, or because one income simply isn’t enough to meet the financial needs of their family. Or they just choose to work because that’s what they want to do. Fine. I also understand that most “professional” women aren’t rude, pompous and smug, like the two I met recently.

But I don’t want to sing Kumbaya right now. I want to kick our backwards, materialistic society in the shins and say, “GET YOUR FREAKING HEAD ON STRAIGHT, SOCIETY.”

This conversation shouldn’t be necessary. I shouldn’t need to explain why it’s insane for anyone — particularly other women — to have such contempt and hostility for “stay at home” mothers. Are we really so shallow? Are we really so confused? Are we really the first culture in the history of mankind to fail to grasp the glory and seriousness of motherhood? The pagans deified Maternity and turned it into a goddess. We’ve gone the other direction; we treat it like a disease or an obstacle.

The people who completely immerse themselves in the tiring, thankless, profoundly important job of raising children ought to be put on a pedestal. We ought to revere them and admire them like we admire rocket scientists and war heroes. These women are doing something beautiful and complicated and challenging and terrifying and painful and joyous and essential. Whatever they are doing, they ARE doing something, and our civilization DEPENDS on them doing it well. Who else can say such a thing? What other job carries with it such consequences?

It’s true — being a mom isn’t a “job.” A job is something you do for part of the day and then stop doing. You get a paycheck. You have unions and benefits and break rooms. I’ve had many jobs; it’s nothing spectacular or mystical. I don’t quite understand why we’ve elevated “the workforce” to this hallowed status. Where do we get our idea of it? The Communist Manifesto? Having a job is necessary for some — it is for me — but it isn’t liberating or empowering. Whatever your job is — you are expendable. You are a number. You are a calculation. You are a servant. You can be replaced, and you will be replaced eventually. Am I being harsh? No, I’m being someone who has a job. I’m being real.

If your mother quit her role as mother, entire lives would be turned upside down; society would suffer greatly. The ripples of that tragedy would be felt for generations. If she quit her job as a computer analyst, she’d be replaced in four days and nobody would care. Same goes for you and me. We have freedom and power in the home, not the office. But we are zombies, so we can not see that.

Yes, my wife is JUST a mother. JUST. She JUST brings forth life into the universe, and she JUST shapes and molds and raises those lives. She JUST manages, directs and maintains the workings of the household, while caring for children who JUST rely on her for everything. She JUST teaches our twins how to be human beings, and, as they grow, she will JUST train them in all things, from morals, to manners, to the ABC’s, to hygiene, etc. She is JUST my spiritual foundation and the rock on which our family is built. She is JUST everything to everyone. And society would JUST fall apart at the seams if she, and her fellow moms, failed in any of the tasks I outlined.

Yes, she is just a mother. Which is sort of like looking at the sky and saying, “hey, it’s justthe sun.”

Of course not all women can be at home full time. It’s one thing to acknowledge that; it’s quite another to paint it as the ideal. To call it the ideal, is to claim that children IDEALLY would spend LESS time around their mothers. This is madness. Pure madness. It isn’t ideal, and it isn’t neutral. The more time a mother can spend raising her kids, the better. The better for them, the better for their souls, the better for the community, the better for humanity. Period.

Finally, it’s probably true that stay at home moms have some down time. People who work outside the home have down time, too. In fact, there are many, many jobs that consist primarily of down time, with little spurts of menial activity strewn throughout. In any case, I’m not looking to get into a fight about who is “busier.” We seem to value our time so little, that we find our worth based on how little of it we have. In other words, we’ve idolized “being busy,” and confused it with being “important.” You can be busy but unimportant, just as you can be important but not busy. I don’t know who is busiest, and I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. I think it’s safe to say that none of us are as busy as we think we are; and however busy we actually are, it’s more than we need to be.

We get a lot of things wrong in our culture. But, when all is said and done, and our civilization crumbles into ashes, we are going to most regret the way we treated mothers and children.

This article is re-posted and originally written by Matt Walsh on his blog. You should like him onFacebook and follow him on Twitter @MattWalshRadio.


How to link your facebook page to twitter in 3 easy steps

Posted on

Why link ??

Ok so the first question is why would you do this?

Facebook and Twitter, of course, represent two of the biggest and most important social networks on the Internet. And many people use both because they do different things. Facebook is a comprehensive social network where you tend to share more details and personal data with friends on their profiles. It also features like photo albums, create events and use applications, including games and quizzes.

Twitter, on the other hand, has a simpler layout and narrower focus. Twitter users share information in quick nuggets that can only extend to at most 140 characters. You can also sign up to “follow” other users. So, when you log in, you’ll see a list of the latest “tweets” from all the people you follow. This format and length constraint allows for users to see at a glance many short bits of information from their friends or favorite celebrities and public figures.

Although Facebook and Twitter have very different functions, you can see how they can overlap. People who have accounts with both networks may have information that they want to quickly share across both platforms. Instead of logging into both networks and plugging in the same information twice, you can opt to link your two accounts. Linking them would allow you to post information on one platform while automatically posting the same information on the other.

How to link in 3 easy steps.

1 – Use the facebook twitter link page

Follow this link to connect to the page :https://www.facebook.com/twitter/ 

When you get there the page will look something like this :

Link facebook to twitter


2 – Click on “Link my Profile to Twitter.”

The page will change to this

Authorise twitter to link to facebook


3 – Click on “Authorize app. This will allow your Facebook account to post to your Twitter account.

You will see a list of tick boxes so you can choose what you want to have transferred. You might want to leave notes & events unticked or tick them all.



That is it. 3 simple steps.